As the situation in Japan grows more dire, there's a lot of argument about how — and even if — Americans should donate to the disaster-ravaged country. Below, we break down some of the advice.
Does Japan need aid?
This may seem like a stupid question if you've been looking at photos of devastated Japanese landscapes. But Japan's a wealthy and well-organized country, and some have argued that this means it may not need foreign aid. However, conditions keep getting worse, especially given rising fears of nuclear disaster. On the Times Room for Debate blog, NGO expert Joel Charny says, "the devastation from last week's earthquake and tsunami has proved to be too much for even Japan." And the LA Times reports that Japan's response to hunger and cold in the quake zone has been less successful than expected:
It remained unclear why a nation renowned for its efficiency has been unable to marshal convoys of supply trucks into the disaster area, as China did after its 2008 earthquake. Though military vehicles were evident, few emergency supplies were seen on the major arteries from Tokyo into the hard-hit Tohuku region and other seriously affected areas.
Short answer: as days go by, the idea that Japan's too rich and stable to need help seems less and less true.
Can Americans provide it?
This is a tougher question. Last week at Gizmodo, Mark Wilson wrote that most American aid organizations were taking a wait-and-see attitude to the crisis. As subsequent updates to that post reflect, some are now mobilizing, although as of Monday several were still waiting for Japanese requests for aid. Experts are reminding concerned Americans that if they do donate, they should send money, not stuff. But where to give money? As the crisis intensifies, several specific options are emerging: